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In modern times, there are a few polarizing dates. One of these is Valentine’s Day. For some this is the perfect excuse to be as romantic as possible, while others associate the day with the overcommercialisation of modern society. However, no matter how you look at this day, it is often easy to forget the quite inspirational and beautiful roots of a day like this. Therefore, on 14 February, it seems like a good idea to take a closer look at one of the most mysterious saints of the past; Saint Valentine himself.

An inspiration of love and devotion

Little is known about the (early) life of Saint Valentine, but we do know that he lived in between 226-269. In this period, he became a devout follower of Christ and ended up as either a priest or a bishop in Rome. More importantly, he devoted himself to everything related to love in aspects to the faith. According to the legends, Valentine was so dedicated to love, that he married Christians in secret, despite the life endangering situations this brought him in. Eventually he was brought before the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II), whom eventually put Valentine to death by beheading.

Although most of our knowledge derives from legends, the person of Valentine most definitely existed, as there has been found a Roman catacomb and church dedicated to Saint Valentine. The reason why we ended up celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day on 14 February is partly because Pope Gregory XVI dedicated his martyrdom to this date, but also because it was believed in the Middle Ages that doves (the lover’s bird) mated in February.

So what has Saint Valentine to do with the dedicated and good life? He devoted his life to fullfilling the wishes of love from those that otherwise had no option and in spite of all the risk that came with it, devoted himself to his work as a priest in the faith. Even though we as modern humans might view the date as a bit tacky and commercialised, there is something to be said for celebrating his day and dedicating it to love. Not only for the efforts of Saint Valentine, but also to dedicate ourself to one of the most powerful and beautiful things in life, namely love.